EDMOND, Okla. – Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige famously
counseled, “Don’t look back; someone may be gaining on you.”
In the second round of the 35th U.S. Senior Open
Championship at Oak Tree National, Colin Montgomerie was fully aware who was
gaining on him, but he didn’t need to look back. The scenario was playing out right
in front of him.
For the second consecutive day, Montgomerie played in the
grouping behind Bernhard Langer, the 2010 Senior Open champion, who has already
won three times on the Champions Tour this year. Montgomerie, the overnight
leader after a first-round 65, shared the lead with Langer for much of the
inward nine on Friday before edging ahead by two strokes over the final few
Video: Round 2 Recap
“It was a good effort, to be honest – it’s never easy
leading,” said Montgomerie after completing his round of even-par 71. “Really,
I was watching Bernhard Langer ahead. He was doing well in holing out and so I
was just trying to keep pace with him. … Staying a couple ahead of our German
friend is always good.”
Indeed, Langer is actually tied for third place with Gene
Sauers, after both players completed two rounds with identical scores of 69-69.
Scott Dunlap, who turned 50 last August and is making his Senior Open debut, snuck
in between them with a second-round 68 for a 137 total, one behind
Montgomerie’s 6-under 136.
Montgomerie had a comfortable start to the championship on
Thursday morning, hitting 11 of 14 fairways en route to eight birdies and the
first-round lead. On Friday afternoon, however, his tee shots turned wayward,
and he struggled to a couple of early bogeys. He immediately followed his
second bogey with a birdie on the par-5 seventh, then settled down to record
nine consecutive pars, helped by one-putts on Nos. 9 and 10. He regained the
solo advantage over Dunlap, who played in the morning, with a 5-footer for
birdie on the par-3 17th and a solid par on No. 18.
“It was very easy to let that go today, but I’m still
leading,” said Montgomerie. “I’m delighted with my position and delighted with
the comeback from the sixth hole.”
Dunlap, who competed at Oak Tree National 30 years ago in
the U.S. Amateur, never got in a practice round before this championship. He
opted to watch World Cup soccer on Tuesday, and his Wednesday practice plan was
waylaid by rain.
“I just got my putter, walked around, and reacquainted
myself with some of the holes I couldn't remember,” said Dunlap, who has kept
his game sharp by playing on the Web.com Tour the past few years, which he
described as “the toughest dollar in professional golf.”
Dunlap has made only one bogey in two days, on his 12th hole
Thursday. His approach to practice is opposite of many of his contemporaries.
“Being fresh and not beaten down is the first and foremost thing for me,” he
said. “I have friends who are the golf equivalent of basketball gym rats. They
want to be at the golf course all day, every day. That’s great. That works for
them. It doesn’t work for me.”
Photos: Friday Action
Langer made the turn in 3-under 32, all square with Montgomerie
at 5 under for the championship. He got to 6 under with a birdie on No. 14, but
he made three bogeys and a birdie in the final four holes to slip back.
“It's very difficult not to make bogeys here; you can bogey
every single hole,” said Langer. “I just missed a lot of fairways throughout
the back nine. The swing wasn't quite there today, so I've got to do a little
Sauers leaped into the mix by making eagle-birdie on Nos. 7
and 8, his inward nine. He hit a hybrid to 15 feet to make one of five eagles
on the day at the 499-yard seventh. Sauers won four times on the PGA Tour before
retiring in 2004. He was away from the game for seven years, then battled back
from a near-fatal bout with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome in 2011, the end result
being that he’s “just glad to be here. Bogey doesn’t mean that much anymore.”
Jeff Sluman, who won the 1988 PGA Championship at Oak TreeNational, is tied for fifth place with Lance Ten Broeck, Mark Brooks and Doug
Garwood at 3-under, while Vijay Singh is alone in ninth place at 140
after a second-round 71. Tom Lehman, Kirk Triplett and Wes Short Jr. are tied
for 10th at 1 under. Robin Byrd, a sectional qualifier from Satellite Beach,
Fla., had the day’s low round, a 67, which was a 10-stroke improvement from his
Thursday round. Marco Dawson, who opened with a 66, went in the opposite
direction, shooting a second-round 76 to fall into a tie for 13th.
Jeff Wilson (70-76) and 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Mike
McCoy (74-74) were the lone amateurs in the group of 17 who started to make the
36-hole cut, which fell at 7-over 149. Among the notable professionals to make
the cut on the number were defending champion Kenny Perry, 2012 Senior Open
winner Roger Chapman, two-time major champion Mark O’Meara and Sam Randolph,
the runner-up to Scott Verplank in the 1984 U.S. Amateur at Oak Tree National.
Among those to miss out on the weekend were Oak Tree’s own Verplank and 1989
British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia, both of whom missed out by one stroke at
Ron Driscoll is the
manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.